The Champions League group stage kicks off today with eight fixtures, a couple of which are particularly intriguing:
- PSG v Arsenal
- Manchester City v Borussia Monchengladbach
Here are a few things to watch in each game:
First, PSG has been, at best, inconsistent so far this season. They clearly miss Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but there are also questions about new manager Unai Emery, a manager known for building defensive, sturdy teams—not the sort of thing an oil-ball club like PSG generally trots out, in other words. Arsenal, meanwhile, have had a stop-start opening to the Premier League campaign. Both teams, then, head into the game with major question marks about them. That said, I think I actually trust Arsenal more in this one. Alexis and Mesut Ozil are game changers and, while Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria are as well, it would seem that Emery’s PSG has not yet figured out how to get the best out of them. Arsenal will win, taking an impressive three points from the Parc des Princes.
With regard to City and ‘Gladbach, it’s a hard one to predict. City is still in the early days of the Guardiola project and so, well, Caley said it best:
Manchester City's combination of the spectacular and the derpomatic is a show like nothing else in the game right now.— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) September 10, 2016
For City, the individual quality and occasional collective genius is there. The consistency is not. ‘Gladbach, meanwhile, cannot command the star power of City but seems to be an otherwise solid team that won’t beat themselves and have already had success strangling aggressive, attack-minded opposition this season. (The discussion on the ‘Gladbach v Leverkusen game on the Double Pivot is excellent, by the way.)
The other thing to note here, of course, is that since the Citizens are in the same group as Barcelona, a home defeat to tripwire opponent ‘Gladbach could seriously jeopardize City’s chances of advancement out of the group, let alone their chance at winning the group and avoiding a nasty second round opponent.
We’ll have more on the Champions League tomorrow when (squee!!) Spurs mark their return to the competition against Monaco.
On to the links:
Guardiola has already promoted five youth team players into the first team.
Manchester United became the first British club to earn over £500m in a calendar year.
Our friends at The Busby Babe had some good thoughts on United’s derby defeat.